Tonight is the major league non-tender deadline and at the risk of making some “Tender is the Night” puns, the Cubs non-tendered former closer Hector Rondon. That means that Rondon immediately becomes a free agent.
Rondon was selected by the Cubs from the Indians in the 2012 Rule 5 draft (also his nickname around here) and after spending the entire 2013 season in the Cubs bullpen, Rondon had pitched his way into being the closer for the 2014 and 2015 Cubs. He started out as the closer in the World Series-winning 2016 campaign, but he struggled to hold his job and eventually lost it for good when the Cubs acquired Aroldis Chapman. He struggled with his control in 2017 and his ERA ballooned up to 4.24. He no longer seemed like a candidate to close for the Cubs except in an emergency situation. Al did a good summary of Rondon’s 2017 season here.
Rondon made $6.2 million in 2017 and was eligible for arbitration. Since players never really make less after arbitration than they did the year before, the Cubs decided that Rondon performance going forward was not likely to be worth more than $6.2 million. Thus, the non-tender.
Overall, in five years with the Cubs, Rondon went 18-13 with a 3.22 ERA and 77 saves in 296 relief appearances.
We’re still waiting to see if the Cubs offer contracts to the other arbitration-eligible players, and I will update this piece when any other moves are announced. It’s pretty safe to say that players like Kris Bryant and Addison Russell will be tendered contracts, but the one player who is still on the bubble is reliever Justin Grimm.
UPDATE: Grimm was tendered a contract, so he will remain a Cub in 2018. Catcher Taylor Davis was non-tendered, however:
In other Cubs news, the Cubs released reliever Matt Carasiti so that he can sign with the Yakult Swallows of NPB. The Cubs got Carasiti from the Rockies at midseason in a trade that sent Zac Rosscup to Denver. Carasiti was the closer for the Iowa Cubs in the second half of the year, saving 8 games in 9 attempts and posting a 4.66 ERA in 19 appearances. He represented Iowa in the Triple-A All-Star Game this summer. However, he struggled with control down the stretch and was not given a major league callup in September, despite the Cubs bullpen issues. He is the type of player who could thrive in Japan as a closer, however, so this is probably a good career move for him.